Africa has a population of over one billion people that is roughly 14% of the world’s population (Brown and Levasseur). Most of the people in the continent live in rural areas with some of these places densely populated. Areas that are highly populated are along the river Nile, the Maghreb region, West Africa, East African Highlands, and eastern half of South Africa.
Environmental Factors Affecting Population Distribution
Most of sub-Saharan Africa nations rely on agriculture for a living either through subsistence agriculture, export agriculture or a combination of both. Areas with fertile soils and reliable annual rainfall that can support the growing of crops hence have high population densities (Mellor). Areas that cannot support agriculture that account for a large part of the continent are mostly sparsely populated.
Rearing of cattle that is widely practiced throughout the continent is also a major factor of population distribution. People in the region carry out pastoralism that is of mutual benefit to farmers. During the dry season, pastoralists graze their cattle on the remains of harvested fields with manure from the animals acting as fertilizers then move to uncultivated regions during the wet season.
Rural-urban migration has also impacted the population distribution in Africa. The cities in most African countries are growing twice as fast as the national growth rates. This is because of industrialization in the region that is causing more and more people to move to the cities to work in the industries.
Ways in Which African People have Influenced World Regions beyond Africa
The slave trade that took place between 1500s and 1870 led to over 12 million Africans being shipped out of the continent to different parts of the world with a majority of them ending up in United States to work in plantations. Also, millions of African-born immigrants have settled in the States with most of the being college graduates in search of employment opportunities and refugees seeking asylum. These movements of African people enabled the blending of African cultures with the other cultures.
The Africans sold as slaves took the African rhythms with them that are now at the core of most of American music styles from jazz, to rock and roll, to blues. Brazil is referred to as the second largest “African State” yet it is found in Latin America. This is due to the high number of Afro-Brazilian population in the country. Africans have also impacted the world through sports particularly long distance running. Runners from Ethiopia and Kenya excel in long distance running events because of the high altitudes of the countries that increase oxygen-carrying capacity. In the 2012 London Olympic Games, these two countries had a total of 19 medals between them all from track events. Finally, perhaps the greatest achievement of anyone from African lineage is the 2008 U.S presidential election win by the son of a Kenyan man and an American Woman called Barrack Obama.
Using the Population Pyramid to Plan for a Country’s Needs
Population pyramids provide a graphical representation of the ages and gender of people in a country. The pyramids are very useful tools used to learn the characteristics of a population and estimate their future needs and problems. The information used in pyramids comes from general public census. There are different types of pyramids, with each showing different needs for the population.
The progressive population pyramid is characterized by a large youth group and a small a small elderly group. This type of population is common in most African countries where there is a low life expectancy and high birth and mortality rates. This type of population pyramid also signifies that there is rampant poverty in the country due to the high dependency ratio. Countries with such population characteristics require their economies to grow immensely in the next 20 – 50 years to provide employment for the high number of youths that would be entering the job market. The countries also need to provide better medical care to reduce the high death rates and increase life expectancy in the population.
Causes of Poverty in Africa
Historical reasons particularly colonialism and slavery are believed to be original cause of poverty in the African continent. Slavery caused depopulation in most parts of the region with the remaining people having to find refuge in remote inaccessible areas. Colonization also played a major role in hampering Africa’s economy. The colonizers were not bothered with development and only built infrastructure such as roads and communications network to join plantations and mining zones that were of interest to them. On gaining independence, most African nations were left with crippling infrastructural challenges. They had to start building necessities such as hospitals and schools.
Environmental factors could also be a contributor to the regions high poverty levels with soil infertility, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and diseases prevalence all seen to play a part in poverty creation.
Other institutional factors such as corruption and poor development policies have also played a part in increasing poverty in the continent. After gaining independence, many African countries relied on export of agricultural products and minerals to earn revenue with many Europeans flocking the region to invest. After sometime the prices of these commodities plummeted causing the countries to be in mountains of debt. However, the biggest mistake made by the leaders of sub-Saharan countries was making the price of staple food cheap in urban areas. This made making money from commercial farming extremely difficult causing most farmers to opt to subsistence farming instead. Corruption is also known to be rampant in the continent with Nigeria ranking as the most corrupt country in the corrupt nations list. Corruption in Africa is owed to lack of transparency in governance of the countries and civil servant also lacking the resources and professionalism to perform their duties. When donors and financial institutions gives offer financial aid and loans to the countries, leaders and civil servants often keep some of the money for themselves.
Effects of a Declining and Aging Population
The population of the entire planet is declining with global population explosion coming to an end and birth rates declining. This population decline will lead to an aging society where most of the population will be the elderly. In agricultural dependent countries, there will be a significant decrease in the labor force since young children from six years can be put to do manual agricultural work in these nations. People in old age will also not have family members to care of them since in most sub-Saharan countries there is no retirement plan and most children become the source of income supporting their parents in old age.
In industrialized nations, work load will have to be burdened on the society strata with the least capabilities to complete it. Governments will also have to spend more on welfare and health benefits to keep the aging population healthy (Friedman). The end result will be a population with majority of people who cannot procreate extending the declining population cycle.
Most of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa was dependent on agriculture with a vast majority of them living in rural areas and agricultural rich areas. However, the rapid growth of cities due to industrialization caused massive rural-urban migration. Majority of people in the continent have also been suffering from abject poverty due to high dependency ratio caused by huge population with most people being below 15 years. This population issue is gradually stopping to be an issue with a reduction in birth rates and an end to population explosion in the region. Although there are some benefits that can be obtained from population reduction, there are also some adverse effects that an a declining population can cause in the future.
Brown, Brock J, and Michal L Levasseur. “Human Geography of Africa.” National Geographic (2006): n.pag. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
Friedman, George. “Population Decline and the Great Economic Reversal.” Geopolitical Weekly (17 Feb. 2015): n.pag. Print.
Mellor, John. W. “High Rural Population Density Africa – What Are the Growth Requirements and Who Participates?” Food Policy 48. (1 Oct. 2014): 66–75. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.